How long ago now was your trip to Tanzania that inspired your venture with stone + cloth? What was your initial inspiration behind travelling there to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro?
I was in design school at the time, and if I wasn't spending time in class, I was doing whatever I could to get outside and hike mountains. I had this dream of climbing the seven summits - the highest peak on every continent. My buddy presented me with the chance to take a free ride to Africa and climb Kilimanjaro, so I took it. It was my first opportunity to check one of those mountains off the list.
We are partnered with The Knock Foundation because they're well established on the ground in Tanzania, and are very dedicated to awarding scholarships to students. I met Kim, who runs the foundation, through a really good friend. The wonderful thing about working them is that I'm able to communicate with her on a regular basis.
The Knock Foundation awarded over 30 scholarships this year, and we're proud to say that after our first year of business, we contributed to that and to their lunch program at Mrupanga Primary school. Going forward, we'll continue to support Knock with their scholarship program to support those students year after year. We look at this as a 10-20 year project, and we're just getting started.
It boils down to two things: quality and relationships. We love being able to drive a few miles to the cut and sew shop and oversee production. It ensures our products are being made to the standard we expect, and it's really fun getting to know the people that make our products. For me, it's a really enjoyable part of the business.
The design of our flagship piece, the Benson, was designed to represent the rucksack that my porter, Benson carried for me on the mountain. Taking a few simple elements from that (the rucksack flap and drawstring) seemed like a natural way to weave my journey into the product. Since we're focused on education, I took a lot of inspiration from my simple Jansport I used everyday when I was in school. The result is what is now our best-selling product.
When I was in college, most of my time was spent at the School of Design. I couldn't really sit still in one particular area, so ended up taking a year of Landscape Architecture, a year of Fine Art, and a mess of Industrial Design, Urban Planning, and Architecture courses along the way. I've always loved making things, but when I started this project, it began with me on a really old sewing machine figuring out how to put two pieces of cloth together.
Our goal is to continue to sell high quality products at good prices, build a brand that people trust, and use our business as a vehicle to help other people realize their dreams through education.
Acongagua - South America
Carstensz - Australia, Oceania
Denali - North America
Vinson - Antarctica
Everest - Asia
I have not crossed any of the others off the list, but get out and hike in southern california whenever possible.
Lately i've been really inspired by movement. I stayed on my buddies' boat for a few days two weeks ago and was in Colorado last weekend. It just seems that every time I'm moving, everything makes more sense.